When you reach a certain age you wake up in the morning and think fuck me, what’s happened? Your back aches, your muscles are stiff from the day before where all you did was walk up a few stairs. Gone are the days where you hop out of the car like a spring chicken get on your board and start sending it like a PostNet envelope. These days you’re more like the SA Postal Service, you sit in storage all week and when the weekend finally comes and you get on board, who knows if you’ll even arrive at your destination? Given all these trepidations, there are certain things that set an OG skater apart from the young bendy legged, baby faced bombers.
- Stretching. As mentioned before, body parts start seizing up when either a) you’re getting old, or b) you’ve eaten such extensive amounts of shit at a young age that, even though you’ve barely cracked 25, you’ve got the equivalent physical age of a 50 year old. Now you have to contort yourself in all kinds of pretzel shaped positions prior to your runs. And all the while groms give you sideways glances as you work your way through your one man kama sutra show. “You’ll learn soon enough you little shit” you whisper to yourself through gritted teeth. You roll your shoulders while they roll their eyes. But how could they possibly understand? They’re as fresh as Mountain Mist toilet spray while you’re the duck on the side of the toilet wall…grumpy and everything pisses you off. The default setting for their scrawny legs is limber and flexy. You’ve barely gotten into your tuck and you start getting hip cramps and feel like a weathered piece of biltong. But stretching is just the first part of the process. The engine is just starting to warm up.
- Warm up runs. You’ve learnt this partially out of experience, partially out of necessity because your body no longer lets you go from zero to hero. Groms are like dogs let off the leash. Frothing at the mouth and rearing to go. But sometimes going all out hell for leather on the first run is the surest way to destination fucked. You’ve learnt this from personal experience and there’s no better way to understanding something than the persuasive powers of a guardrail. Now you’ve become an expert meteorologist. Before your run you’ll analyse what the wind is doing, the humidity, cloud coverage, road conditions. Everything that could impact your run adversely is analysed… and this is a good thing. Minimizing the potential of nasty surprises is the surest way to a long and illustrious skate career. So on you go, gingerly pushing into you first run with a healthy amount of airbraking and man carves. You’ve also learnt to stay away from runs with strangers tightly packed like a taxi on Wynberg main road. You choose your skate partners carefully and keep a healthy distance until you’ve warmed up sufficiently and are ready to rumble.
- Authority. They might do stand-up slides into corners that you footbrake. But you’ve got authority. Groms are an interesting breed. They’re skating is inspiring but often they walk around like a horse with blinders. They’re oblivious to the fact that you’ve just driven their under aged asses up and down hills all day. Their oblivious to the fact that petrol doesn’t just piss out of the earth straight into your car and that pound for pound it’s more expensive than a Woolworth’s raw pineapple, turmeric and ginger juice. Their oblivious to the fact that at the end of their session they’ve left your car looking like a New Delhi Township. There’s Mc Donalds packaging everywhere, chips stamped into the carpet, milkshake spilt on the seat. Not to mention that half their skate shit was left behind and naturally it’s your responsibility that it is returned to them promptly. They have not yet learnt to take ownership of their actions and this gives you the right to rule with an iron fist. Keeping groms in line is an important part of the skating eco-system. They keep you on your toes by constantly pushing the skating envelope and you keep them in check by teaching them finer dynamics of social behaviour and skating etiquette. But tune them and they will listen. In most cases they understand their place in the in the larger scheme of things and where not they will learn soon enough.
- Protection. Your knees are twice their size fitted with some old school, hard-plastic 187 Killer Pads. Shakira would be envious of how your hips don’t lie, sporting bulging hip pads. Even your elbows haven’t escaped the dress rehearsal and are enveloped in some sneaky g-form pads. You look like a French riot policeman ready to sort out some protesting youths. But you don’t care; your body has been battered through years of fashion conscious skating…those days are over and shall not be revisited. You are here to skate not to look good.
- Sending it. Despite your decrepit body, despite your lengthy routine until you’ve gotten into gear, despite your appearance, you still know how to send it. Once the engine is running, it purrs like a trusty Toyota. It can be relied on and it will deliver. And if put to the test, it’s faster than you think.
Written by Yoshi.